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Linda G. Bowlby 9126251
Allegations and Plea
The College alleged that the Member: engaged in a personal, romantic, and/or sexual relationship with her client’s significant other, and that this conduct would be regarded as disgraceful, dishonourable, or unprofessional.
The Member admitted the allegations. The College and the Member jointly submitted an agreement to the following facts.
The Member was employed at a nursing agency from 2011 to 2013 when her employment was terminated. The Member was the Client’s primary nurse, and provided the Client nursing care in her home three days a week.
The Client was deaf and communicated using sign language and writing. The Client was receiving nursing care for skin issues and back pain. The Client lived with the Client’s significant other, who provided the Client with housing and almost all care. The Client was vulnerable because of the hearing impairment and extremely dependent on the Client’s significant other.
The Member was aware that the Client and the Client’s significant other were in a common law relationship.
In 2013, during the nurse-client relationship with the Client, the Member entered into a personal, romantic, and sexual relationship with the Client’s significant other. After the agency terminated her, the Member continued the sexual and romantic relationship and continued to see and sleep with the Client’s significant other at the house where the Client lived. In addition, the Member later counselled the Client to find a new spouse now that the Member was dating the Client’s significant other.
The Member admits that she breached the therapeutic nurse-client relationship, undermined the Client’s trust in her as a nurse, and ultimately put the Client in a very uncomfortable and stressful situation.
The Member also acknowledges that her ongoing romantic relationship with the Client’s significant other had a negative impact on the Client’s future care. The Client was traumatized not only by the loss of the relationship, but also by the reprisals and instability in housing and care.
The Panel found that the facts supported a finding of professional misconduct, and that the Member’s conduct would be considered as disgraceful, dishonorable, and unprofessional.
Submissions on Order
The College and the Member jointly sought an oral reprimand and a four-month suspension. The Member would also be required to complete specified remediation activities in preparation for a series of meetings with a nursing expert. For 12 months from the date she returns to nursing, the Member would be required to advise the College of her employers, provide employers with a copy of the Panel’s decision and reasons, and only practise for an employer who agreed to advise the College if the Member breached the standards of practice of the profession.
The Panel accepted the joint submission as reasonable and in the public interest. The Member accepted responsibility for her actions and cooperated with the College by agreeing to the facts and proposed penalty. The penalty satisfies the principles of specific and general deterrence, rehabilitation and remediation, and public protection. In particular, a four-month suspension provides a clear message to the profession that failing to appropriately establish and maintain nursing boundaries is not tolerated. The remediation will allow the Member the opportunity to learn from her actions and correct her practices.